Elon Musk Thinks We Are Living Inside A Video Game

When Elon Musk isn't busy building electric cars that will change the world forever, or building home solar panels that will change the world forever, or building other things that will... change the world forever, he's busy reading philosophy and thinking that the universe we live in is a video game and we're all just NPCs.

I like this idea. He makes a pretty good argument.

He expanded upon his views at the annual Recode 'Code' conference. Here are his thoughts, as transcribed by Vox.

The strongest argument for us being in a simulation probably is the following. Forty years ago we had pong. Like, two rectangles and a dot. That was what games were.
Now, 40 years later, we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it's getting better every year. Soon we'll have virtual reality, augmented reality.
If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now. Then you just say, okay, let's imagine it's 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale.
So given that we're clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we're in base reality is one in billions.
Tell me what's wrong with that argument. Is there a flaw in that argument?

I actually find this argument fairly convincing. Later Musk says we, as a civilisation, should hope that our existence is part of some simulation. I think I'm okay with it. I'd be fine with it. Does it make our lives any more or less consequential?

Maybe Nathan Drake believes he's a real human being?


    I have believed this for a long time, however Musk has a much better grasps on ideas for it..... a base world and the other points on the limitations of it.
    Fits well with this generation of thinking.

    So we've just come full circle back to the Matrix then...old news really

    If life is a video game then it must be made by EA. F*cking microtransactions everywhere!

      Would they just fucking patch alcohol already? The bug where you're hungover the next day surly can't he working as intended? I really hope someone got fired for this.

        Not to mention the constant grinding for in-game currency.

        Seriously, I'm going to spend the next 7 or 8 hours sitting here at this desk. How is that fun?

          Maybe you're playing it wrong?

            Well most other players seem to be playing it the same way. If this isn't how it's supposed to be then maybe they need to patch it to provide some extra signposting to guide us towards the better stuff. Maybe a better tutorial? I spent well over a decade in the one they've got now and it bored the crap out of me. I've already forgotten most of it.

              Same here, messed up the character creation. Should have gone for drug lord or celebrity.

                I wish I'd spent a bit more time perfecting the look of my Avatar, too. It's really hard to change it now, and what improvement I can get requires yet more tedious grinding.

    Man, if only I had gone on some show and said this when I philosophised about it decades ago then I could have been in a Kotaku article! Really though it's all just riffing off Descartes. Reality is what we believe it to be so whether we are in a simulation, in someone's giant terrarium or whether I'm actually just an intelligence creating a world around me to stave off loneliness until my death it all makes sense to me because I am the one who created it. When something comes along to shake that belief, I will reinvent my reality and accept it as the new state of existence.

      or whether I'm actually just an intelligence creating a world around me to stave off loneliness until my death

      Dude... depressing.

      I think Musk's argument is less about the Cartesian approach of your belief in reality shaping said reality for you and more about the statistical probability of being in a simulation given the speculated capacity for any given reality to advance to the point of creating reality-like simulations.

    I know it's interesting to ponder such things, but to say this is a convincing argument? Bit of a stretch.

    E.M is a champion - but suggesting we live in a simulation will only distract people from the fact that A) No, this is a physical world and B) We are f*cking it up at an unprecedented rate.

      I think you should read up on the underlying logic of the argument.

      The wikipedia article does a reasonable job explaining it.


      That said, even with a (taking Musks number) 1 in a billion chance we aren't the simulation, doesn't mean we shouldn't look after our planet. And then, to follow from that, even if we are a simulation, we should anyway, because we still exist within that simulation, and our satisfaction and quality of life is determined by such a variable within the simulation.

      Last edited 03/06/16 10:44 am

    If we were really in a game, someone would have figured out a way to glitch out of the map by now.

      So, what you're saying is that Jesus got VAC'd?

      What do you think mysterious dissaperences are?

      People with memories of past lives could simply be glitched NPCs pulling on the wrong strings of code.

    If true, I'd say that we are in an all-AI game of God's Meier Civilization XII.

      So glad s/he remembered to patch Ghandi

      Last edited 03/06/16 12:07 pm

    The question would then be "to what end?". Because, logically, when you think about it, say you enter the Oculus Rift 6.0 Realm and its exactly like reality.

    Well you still remember that you have / had a life outside of that. Yes it looks the same but you remember what you had for breakfast, your friends, family, life, etc. So if this world was indeed a simulation and we were fed into it without us knowing ... to what end is that? What would be the purpose of it?

      Well, the important thing is that it's indistinguishable from reality. And reality, as it pertains to individuals, is just your brain interpreting a series of internal electrical currents. So if a computer can mimic those currents perfectly, and therefore there's literally no difference between the two, isn't that also reality? or to put it another way, the inputs to the brain are the same, so the reality is the same (at least from the perspective of the person experiencing it)

      Now hypothetically let's say that the earth gets so polluted and over populated that the only way to sustain human life on earth is for a Matrix-esque type simulation. You could live a shit existence in the present, or sleep in a tube and live a completely different, more pleasant life, without ever knowing that it wasn't actually a physical reality.

      The problem is that we think our memory is inherently reliable, when in fact it isn't.

      Let's assume we are in a simulation and our real minds are in another location. What's to say that every memory you've had isn't just something that has been implanted to aid in the simulation.

      Did yesterday really happen? How can you be certain it really did and that a moment ago someone didn't just implant memories into your mind to make you think you actually lived out the last 30 years of your life?

    If you're arguing for a likely reality based on statistical probability, you still still run into the Boltzmann Brain problem. Given the the high entropy state of the posited universe, we are still much much more likely to be a single self aware stochastic fluctuation in a low entropy soup. Just saying.

    Yeah he's not the first, this philosophical theory has been around for decades. There's another way of looking at it too.

    Simple maths bit:- plot the computing power of computers over time (exponential increase from the 60s) and computing power of the human brain over time (plateau/gentle rise, currently significantly higher than the power of computers). When you extrapolate the computer power curve it will intersect with the brain power line at some point in the future. At this point the capacity of computers is sufficiently high that one could theoretically output enough electronic signals directly to the synapses of the brain to replace all natural synaptic transmission, effectively creating a 'simulation' which is indistinguishable from real life.

    The philosophical part is much simpler. If such an outcome is even possible (bearing in mind that some would consider it inevitable) then the possibility of us already being in such a simulation is equally as likely as the possibility that it is yet to happen. And by the very nature of it's indistinguishability the argument itself is impossible to prove or disprove.

    Read a Sci-Fi book recently where the simulation theory was a galactic religion.
    The philosophy was that if enough people in the sim realise thay are in a sim, it will deviate it far enough from its intended purpose that the admin will have to either grant independence or shut it down.

      What was the title of the book?

        The Algebraist - Ian M Banks.
        It wasn't the core plot of the book but was an interesting idea.

    I went outside, and the ray-tracing on the lighting was unbelievable. Full bloom and shit, damn man, that's some next-gen graphics right there.

    You know, this would explain the tunnel of white light stuff people see when they die.

    And reincarnation.

    But I think it's bullshit. When you're really smart, it's easy to convince yourself of this kind of thing. Still, can but hope! I don't want to die! I will fucking miss my kids though. What are they? Achievements? Are they real or programs? I don't really like this train of thought :(

      They're actually a debuff. Initially, anyway. The code gets pretty eratic at around age 13, and between then and age 21 you'll get a few rolls to determine whether the debuff manifests itself as a companion or not.

      Last edited 03/06/16 5:18 pm


        Srsly, I think my life is setting itself up for huge fail if they turn out to be arseholes. Damn they require so much grinding to keep content.

    - Big Bang
    - 14.5 billion years of cosmic evolution
    - Mankind creates computers
    - Mankind still cannot completely understand the nature of existence, so
    - "We're in a computer"

      Aaaaand you're now the smartest guy on this site. How does it feel?

    If we are in a sim or not, who cares. Your perception of reality is still subjective and everything is still just happening inside your own mind anyway.

    Whether we are in the "real" world, a simulation, or even a simulation of a simulation (it could be many levels deep) it makes no difference.

    Be kind to others and enjoy your existence while you're conscious.

    This argument is based on non existent facts. It's a proclamation of what if, not what is. If you are allowing the use of such reasoning, then anything can be proven, I mean anything.

    It's like Russell's Teapot, the obligation to prove is upon the individual making the claim, because it cannot be dis-proven.

    Does anyone know any good mods? I'm kind of bored with the vanilla Simulation

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